Quieting Clutter: 5 Habits for a Happier Home

Last night I brought the sewing machine out of the closet and sat down to make a curtain. A few weeks ago my mom gave me a beautiful green tablecloth that had gotten snagged in the washer. She thought I might be able to cut it down to size to fit our table but all I could see was our cat using it as a magic carpet the next time he decided to investigate something atop that table. So the idea of a curtain was born.

Our $20 sewing machine has made a lot of curtains over the past two years but for some reason, last night it just didn’t want to cooperate. In my frustration, I left the sewing machine, fabric, various spools of thread, pins, and scissors on the dining room table and went to bed. This morning I awoke to find most of it on the floor. Caesar had apparently launched an investigation sometime in the middle of the night and taken that aforementioned magic carpet ride.

We’re not folks who generally leave stuff lying around so needless to say, I felt pretty upset with myself as I picked about a million pins out of the carpet this morning. When our home is in disarray, it constantly bombards my sense of calm. I don’t know about you, but the very presence of clutter is like an alarm or siren going off all around me and I can’t get anything else done until I quiet it.

This morning’s episode prompted me to think about all the many routines or habits or rhythms that we have that quiet the clutter and keep our home feeling peaceful and happy every day.

Winter BedroomWe always make the bed. 

Making the bed is a relatively small task that can make a huge difference in how you feel about the tidiness of your home. It takes about 2 minutes to make our bed and immediately gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment and a boost of positive energy. When we retire at night, I feel that same positive vibe. The atmosphere of the room is relaxing and calm, thanks in large part to simply making the bed.

We always do the dishes. 

Similar to making the bed, having a clean sink and empty counter can boost your mood and help you feel more accomplished. It’s also healthier to keep your dishes clean. Bacteria tends to build up on unwashed dishes and can cause nasty odors (or invite unwanted guests). For us, hand washing dishes 1-2 times a day is a necessity. Our cupboard contains only enough to serve ourselves and a couple of guests.

Laundry is a terminal process. 

I hear lots of people say that laundry at their house is a never-ending process. There’s always a load in the washer, the dryer, or waiting in a basket to be folded. When you are doing only parts of the laundry all the time, you never feel you are accomplishing anything more than shuttling clutter from one pile to the next. We take a more terminal approach to laundry. Whatever day we decide to do laundry is the day that ALL laundry has to be done. And by done, I mean washed, dried, folded, and put away. No exceptions.

Everything in our home has it’s own home. 

From extra pillowcases to the library book we’re currently reading, everything has a place to go when it’s not being used. For us, it’s more than just being organized though. You won’t find any bins, boxes, bags or baskets tucked away neatly (or not-so-neatly) in the corners of our home to “capture” clutter. If an item doesn’t have a use – present or future – we just don’t keep it. This leaves plenty of room for everything that we do find useful.

We always do a quick clean-up before going out or going to bed. 

I think this is the key to keeping our home calm and clutter-free (and the reason I felt out of sorts with the sewing disaster this morning). Before we leave the house and every night before going to bed, we straighten the pillows on the couches, fold any throw blankets we had out, put snack dishes in the dishwasher or wash them up quickly by hand, and put away any books, laptops, art projects, games, or other items we might have been using.  That way, when we come home or wake up to greet the new day, we’re not faced with leftover chores and clutter.

What are some of the ways that you quiet the clutter in your home?

Weekly Progress to Goals Report (week ending 1/28)

    • No Spend Days = 4
      YTD = 17/200
    • Meatless Days = 3
      YTD = 13.5/144
    • Miles Walked/Hiked = 12.6/3.6
      YTD = 57.8/1,000 and 3.6/100
    • Decluttered Items = 1
      YTD = 148/2017
    • Side Hustle Income = $25.50
      YTD = $87.71/$1,825

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